Is There a Difference Between GERD and Acid Reflux?


Adults commonly hear the terms “GERD” and “acid reflux” and debate whether there is variation between the two or if they are the same. At surface level, they can seem to produce the same primary symptom — a burning pain in the chest or heartburn. There is more to it than that, however. What, then, are the differences between these conditions?

The GI specialists at GI Alliance are here to help you grasp the basics of various gastro conditions so you can give attention to your gastrointestinal and overall health. Our digestive health specialists want you to feel knowledgeable enough about any conditions you may have in order to make decisions that will benefit you.

What causes acid reflux?

After you swallow, your food or drink will go from your esophagus into your stomach through the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). Sometimes, the lower esophageal sphincter doesn’t close all the way and lets the acid formed during this process make its way back up into the esophagus. This acid reflux causes the familiar feeling of “heartburn."

There are several reasons the LES can’t completely close. This is typically the result of weakness in a person’s lower esophageal sphincter. Some common causes of this include:

  • A diet high in fat or with a lot of spicy foods
  • Certain medications
  • Tobacco use
  • Caffeine consumption
  • Obesity
  • Alcohol consumption

Gastroesophageal reflux disease vs. acid reflux

If you experience heartburn a few times or more a week or if acid reflux medications don’t help your heartburn, you may have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Our GI Alliance providers can help you better understand your symptoms and decide if you have GERD or another condition. Finding a treatment method that helps alleviate acid reflux or GERD symptoms may take some trial and error. However, our providers are here to help you during treatment.

How is GERD treated?

If you are searching for GERD treatment, there are various treatments we can try out. First, we will review your current medications and general health to decide if we can adjust any of your medications. Some other adjustments we may recommend are:

  • Lose weight if suggested by your doctor
  • Sleeping with your head raised
  • Reduce how much caffeine you drink
  • Adjust your diet to include foods high in fiber and steer clear of citrus or high-fat and spicy foods
  • Stay sitting up following your meals, and don’t eat three hours before bedtime
  • Eat slowly

If you still get acid reflux relief after attempting one or more of these adjustments, there are other treatment options to consider. Such options may include prescribed antacids or, typically, as a last result, a surgical procedure.

Find relief from acid reflux and GERD symptoms

Our GI specialists at GI Alliance can diagnose and treat a wide range of gastrointestinal conditions, such as moderate-to-severe acid reflux. There are options if you’re suffering from GERD or want a favorable way to treat your acid reflux. To learn more about how our team of GI doctors can assist you when finding relief from your GERD symptoms, contact one of our locations near you at your earliest convenience.

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